City still working to clear roads after snowy November

After Mother Nature dumps a large amount of snow on Red Deer, much of it gets collected and redumped at one of the city’s two snow storage sites.

After Mother Nature dumps a large amount of snow on Red Deer, much of it gets collected and redumped at one of the city’s two snow storage sites.

Snow has long been stored in the city’s northwest in Edgar Industrial Park; a second site was added about a decade ago south of Delburne Road on 40th Avenue.

Those sites are already piled high due to the over 60 cm of wintry precipitation that has fallen on Red Deer so far in November.

In an average year, the city hires 16 to 24 trucks to haul snow from Priority 1-4 plows to the dump sites. As the city has grown over the years, the piles formed at the sites simply keep getting pushed higher.

And residents wishing to maintain the weather-induced high of summer should avoid the sites during that scant season, as the last remnants of the white stuff-turned brown and grey stuff typically remain until August. When melting does occur, solids and suspended particulate matter settles into a detention pond, while the melted water will either go into the storm sewer system or into a ditch before eventually making its way into Piper Creek.

“In September we basically re-grade and pick up all the debris — all the sand materials, debris, garbage that we collect on the streets — and we dispose of that,” explained Greg Sikora, public works department manager on Wednesday.

The city started working on clearing collector roadways that run through residential areas on Monday. The work on the 149 km of Priority 4 roads is expected to be completed in less than 20 days, with two crews working six days a week.

More snow has already fallen in November than the city would typically see by the end of January. While wary of making any prediction on whether any further winter weather wrath will hit the city and impact snow clearing efforts, Sikora said it is possible some typical plowing actions might occur earlier than usual this winter.

“If in December we roll into a Priority 6, which is a residential plow, which typically we do in late January or early February, we’d be advancing that into this budget cycle which would mean we’re doing two residential plows (in the calendar year).

“We would be spending more than our budget had in place,” he said.

The 2013 snow and ice removal budget was set at $3.43 million, according to Sikora, up from $3.15 million in 2012. The last Priority 6 residential plow of over 200 km of roadways at the beginning of the year cost about $565,000, he said.

Over the past decade, Sikora said residential plows have occurred on average about once every two years.

If the 2013 budget number is exceeded, funds can be taken from other units within the Public Works Department or from within the Development Services Division. A contingency reserve fund had been used in 2011 and 2012, but was scrapped by council during a snow and ice control policy review last year.